President Obama called California Attorney General Kamala Harris Thursday night to apologize for praising her looks at a fundraiser Thursday.
Mr. Obama called Ms. Harris "the best-looking attorney general in the country," a comment that stirred controversy and some ribbing.
"Sexual Harris-ment?" wondered Vanity Fair in its online report.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Friday told reporters that Mr. Obama had called Ms. Harris the night before to apologize for causing a "distraction" by his comments. He declined to say whether the president thought the comments were inappropriate and demeaning, adding that he was sorry for "the remark."
"They're old friends," Mr. Carney says of Mr. Obama and Ms. Harris. "He certainly regretted that [his remark] caused a distraction."
Speaking at a fundraiser in a wealthy San Francisco suburb of Atherton Thursday, Mr. Obama heaped praise on Ms. Harris's talent as attorney general, as well as her looks.
"You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you'd want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake," Mr. Obama said. "She also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general in the country."
"It's true! C'mon," he added as the crowd laughed nervously.
Mr. Obama traveled to California earlier this week to raise money for Democratic candidates running for federal office in 2014. The event, at the home of Levi-Strauss heir John Goldman, benefited the Democratic National Committee.
Ms. Harris, 48, who has served as the state's attorney general since 2011, is the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican-American father and has been described as "the female Barack Obama."
She is viewed as a potential gubernatorial candidate and SCOTUSBlog has speculated that Mr. Obama could choose her as a potential Supreme Court justice.
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